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2) OTG USB type A to USB type C adapter (if your device features a USB type C port). In either case you will still need a USB A to B cable (or MIDI to USB interface in case your keyboard has MIDI In/Out ports), which you’ll plug into the keyboard. The other end (USB-A) will connect to one of the adapters above. Usb Midi Roll Up Piano Software Mac. Software To Make Electronic Music On Mac. App Adobe Flash Player Mac. Polycom Content App Download Mac. Mydaq Software Mac Os 10. Play Mp3 In Gmail App Mac. Best Free Software To Clean Up Mac. Undelete Software For A Mac Hard Drive. Fantasy Football Auction Draft Software Mac.

If you’re sick of using the Musical Typing keyboard in Garageband, then look no further than this article. Connecting a keyboard MIDI controller to Garageband is incredibly simple. I’ll walk you through a quick summary on how to do it, followed by a more in-depth step-by-step process.

To connect a MIDI keyboard to Garageband, use a USB-to-Firewire cable to connect it to the computer (with a USB-to-USB-C adapter for newer computers). For MIDI cable devices, you’ll need a MIDI interface instead. To troubleshoot, select Reset MIDI Drivers in the Preferences or restart the computer.

The process for connecting a keyboard into your computer and DAW is identical for nearly all of them nowadays. However, as I just demonstrated above, with Apple and other laptop makers opting for USB-C, you may have to purchase a USB-C to USB cable from Amazon.

You don’t have to purchase an Apple one, necessarily. There are other good ones as well that are half the price, but I have the Apple one, and it’s the one I use, so I recommend it because I know it works from experience. When purchasing a new MIDI Keyboard, it’ll likely come with all of the cables necessary for use, including the USB to Firewire Cable, which you can also pick up at Amazon if your keyboard, for whatever reason, didn’t come with it.

1) Assuming that you have the brand new MacBook Pro (by the way, this one here from Amazon as well is the one I recommend the most), you can connect your MIDI Keyboard by a USB Firewire cable directly into the back of the Keyboard.

2) Plug your *USB-C to USB adapter into your laptop.

3) Plug your USB Firewire into your *USB-C to USB adapter.

4) Now open Garageband.

5) After you’ve opened up the program, you don’t have to use musical typing anymore. The keyboard will automatically work right away, without any problems.

*If you have an older computer, it’s possible that you may not even need this adaptor. The keyboard, through the USB port, should be able to connect to your laptop.

In the past, MIDI Keyboards were connected through the use of Pin Drivers, but new MIDI Keyboards usually use USB. If you want to connect an older keyboard into Garageband, you’ll need a MIDI to USB adaptor.

What MIDI keyboard should I use for Garageband?

Considering you’re likely in the beginning stages of music production, I would recommend getting an Acorn Masterkey 49. Although, they aren’t on Amazon anymore, so it would be best to grab the M-Audio Keystation 49 from Amazon instead.

As I explained in my article on the masterkey, it has 49 keys, which is essential if you’re trying to get the full range of the piano (it‘s the one in the display picture for this blog post).

In my opinion, a 25-key is good for traveling and when you need something on the road, but for regular music production, a 49-key or larger is best.

It’s a nice little starter keyboard and it works perfectly for a beginner. There are even more options available, like a 61-key, and an 88-key.

Perhaps the most popular keyboard out right now is the Akai MPK Mini MKIII (also on Amazon). A lot of people prefer this little machine, and there are more expensive, larger, and superior versions available.

In addition to the price, the Akai MPK Mini Mk2 only has 25 keys, so I didn’t want to get it for that reason.

Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, you can pick up a more professional keyboard like the Akai MPK, but it’s certainly not necessary for a beginner to drop this kind of money.

How To Assign Sounds to MIDI Keyboard in Garageband?

From what I understand, it’s not actually possible to assign individual samples to different keys in GarageBand anymore. I don’t know how to do it, and after scouring the internet for answers, I, unfortunately, can’t find a way.

In prior versions of the software, it was possible, but I don’t think you can anymore, for whatever reason. What Apple giveth, it also taketh away.

I could be wrong. Let me know in the comment section below if you know how to do this because I don’t.

If you have the older version of Garageband. The tutorial video at this linkwill show you how.

How To Use A MIDI Keyboard in Garageband?

Background and General Information

The moment you connect your keyboard into your computer, it should work right away. Garageband will recognize exactly what tool you’re using the moment you connect it.

It works the same way that the Musical Typing option does, but with a much bigger range, which makes writing music a lot easier, especially if you like to use the piano.

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The ability to change phrases of music after you’ve recorded it is the main benefit of using MIDI.

For instance, if you’ve written a piano riff using a MIDI Controller, you can go back and adjust the timing, velocity, rhythm, as well as the pitch of the note.

It’s a lot easier to change and modify music created through a MIDI Controller, in comparison to an analog recording.

Tip: After making a melody with a MIDI Controller, open a new track with whatever instrument you want, and then copy and paste it into the new Software Instrument Track.

For instance, if you’ve created a melody using the Steinway Grand Piano, you could copy and paste your music into a new Software Instrument Track like String Movements, thus, filling out your mix within seconds.

Using the MIDI Keyboard

To use the MIDI Controller, you’ll have to open a “Software Instrument” track. On the left-hand corner of the string, Garageband has all of the different instruments and settings that you can use.

When using the MIDI controller for creating drums, the drum sounds will usually be within the first octave of the keyboard. Most drum-kits have a limited number of sounds, usually around 9-12.

When creating melodies, whether, through the use of the Steinway Grand Piano, or a Synth, the MIDI controller offers the range of however many keys you have with your controller.

Creating A New Software Instrument Track

If you want to create another Software Instrument track, click on the Track Header using the “secondary click (right click)” function, and choose New Software Instrument Track, or New Track With Duplicate Settings.

Deleting the Software Instrument or Audio Track

If you want to delete the existing Software Instrument Track, use the (Command + Delete) function.

Changing the Timing, Pitch, and Velocity (loudness) Of Your MIDI Notes

Through the use of the “Piano Roll Grid,” at the bottom of Garageband, you can adjust the timing and pitch of each note played.

Some people don’t even use the keyboard to create melodies and drum tracks, you can manually type in each MIDI note by double-tapping your trackpad and selecting the “create note” option.

Like I said before, the best part about using a MIDI controller is that you can fix mistakes that you’ve made simply by changing the position of the MIDI note.

How To Change The Timing Of Your MIDI Notes

The notes, which are little green squares, can easily be moved around by clicking and dragging it to the desired pitch and time.

If you use the Zoom-In function on your Mac, you’ll see that the Piano Roll Grid is divided up with equally distributed lines.

If you want your music to be perfectly in time, just drag and drop the MIDI notes to the closest line, that way your melody is in time, and when you create drums later, everything will be synchronized.

This is legitimately important. Otherwise, your melody is going to sound off-balance and weird. Although, maybe that’s what you want.

How To Change The Pitch Of The Notes

Drag and drop the MIDI notes either up or down to the desired pitch. On the left-hand side of the “Piano Roll Grid,” you’ll notice there is a vertical keyboard, showing at which point each note is played respectively to the piano.

Also, if you hover your cursor of the note, it’ll tell you the pitch, as well as the velocity (strength) of the sound.

How To Change The Velocity (loudness) of the Notes

To my knowledge, there are two ways of doing this in the newest version of Garageband. On the left-hand side of the “Piano Roll Grid,” you’ll see a slider along with the title, “Velocity” – (more on the Piano Roll in my comprehensive tutorial).

After selecting your note, you can change the loudness or strength of that note by dragging the slider to the left or right. Increasing the value, (0-100), will make it louder, and decreasing it will make it softer.

Underneath that option, there is also the “Controller” option. You get to this setting by clicking on the button, “Show/Hide Automation.”

Click the power button that looks like a typical “Power” Function.

Then you can drag the vertical slider up and down to change the loudness of that note.

Truthfully, using a MIDI Keyboard in a DAW is a straightforward process, and through a bit of trial and error, you should be able to figure it out.

How To Open Keyboard in GarageBand

Use the (Command + K) option to bring up musical typing in Garageband. You can also select the “Show Musical Typing” option in the settings in the toolbar up top in the DAW.

Additionally, if you want access to a much bigger, but more limited way of playing the keyboard, then click on the option, “Show Keyboard.”

This isn’t nearly as good as using a regular MIDI Keyboard, but it’ll do if you don’t want to go out and buy a keyboard, which you definitely should do.

Why Isn’t My MIDI Keyboard Working?

1) Make sure that you’ve selected the correct input and output options within your Garageband preferences to start. Usually, this part isn’t even necessary, but if your MIDI controller isn’t working for whatever reason, you can adjust these settings.

2) If your MIDI Keyboard isn’t working, go into your Garageband Preferences, Select “Audio/MIDI,” and then click the “re-set the MIDI Drivers” button.

3) Is it possible that your Instrument Track has been muted? In the “Track Header” region, you can see there are two buttons, one that looks like a loudspeaker with a line through it, and another one that looks like a pair of headphones.

The one that looks like a speaker is the “Mute” button, and the Headphones button is the “Solo” button that isolates that particular sound within your mix, in case you want to just hear that one track, and not the others.

You’ll know your mute button is selected because it’ll turn a turquoise green and the MIDI region is no longer green, but a darker shade of grey.

When the “Solo” button is turned on, it’s yellow.

Also, if you’ve accidentally isolated a track using the “Solo” button, you won’t be able to hear the MIDI controller, unless you’re currently playing the MIDI Controller through that particular “Software Instrument” track.

4) Another potential reason is that you’ve slid the “Volume Slider” all the way to the left, effectively muting the track.

5) Check your MIDI Keyboard connection. It may have something to do with your USB Firewire Cable.

6) If your computer isn’t recognizing your MIDI Controller, unplug and plug it back in after restarting Garageband.

A way to tell if your computer has recognized the controller is by hitting a note on your MIDI Controller, and seeing if it registers that note at the top of the DAW.

If you hit one note, a little circle will appear in the top right-hand corner of the “Beats Position Display” at the top-center of Garageband.

If you play a chord on the MIDI Controller, Garageband will tell you the exact chord.

Another way of checking to see if your computer recognizes the keyboard is to go into the “About This Mac” settings. Then click on “System Report.”

Go all the way down to where it says “USB,” and click on that.

On the right-hand side of the menu, it will say what’s connected to your computer currently. On mine, it says the name of the device, “masterkey 49.”

7) Try another USB (USB-C) Port on your computer. If you’re using the new MacBook, try a different device, it may be the adaptor.

Remember, the simplest solution is usually the correct one.

YouTube Video Tutorial


That’s all for this tutorial. I hope it was helpful for you. Check out my recommended product page for more on MIDI keyboards.

Audacity is free, open-source audio software that can be used for basic audio production.

The fact it costs nothing means it is a popular choice for beginners or those on a budget. As you progress to make more complex music within this piece of software you may ask can you use a MIDI keyboard in Audacity?

You can’t use a MIDI keyboard directly within Audacity as the software does not have the ability to record or write MIDI files or communicate with a MIDI keyboard or controller directly. Despite this, the software is capable of handling some basic MIDI information that can be used in audio production.

In this article I will briefly explain why this is the case and how you can use limited MIDI within Audacity if you require it in one of your tracks.

How Does A MIDI Keyboard Work?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and was a digital language created in the 1980s during the rise of electronic instruments to allow them to communicate with one another.

No audio signals are sent via MIDI, it is entirely digital, so basically a series of 1s and 0s. This means musical information can be transferred between devices extremely quickly.

A MIDI message contains various information about a musical note including:

  • Which note is pressed
  • The moment that not is pressed and released
  • How hard it is pressed (known as the velocity)
  • After-touch
  • Vibrato
  • Pitch Bend

All these categories have a number associated with them between 0 and 127. For velocity for example a number 0 would be the equivalent of no sound whereas 127 is the loudest.

How Does MIDI Work In Computer Software

So how does MIDI work in a computer and allow musical compositions to be created?

Specialized Digital Audio Workstations such as Ableton Live or Logic are designed to work with MIDI files.

You can either play in notes via a MIDI keyboard or controller or draw them in using your computer mouse. These notes appear in the software on what is known as the ‘piano roll’ which looks like the image shown below.

This is a major tool in modern music production.

You can think of this a bit like a graph. The Y axis going up on the left is the note as shown on a piano keyboard and the X axis along the bottom represents time. So the longer a note is held, the longer the bar is shown on the piano roll.

This data is stored within your computer and the DAW uses plugins to convert that digital information into an audio signal which can be used in a musical track.

You can quickly switch from a piano sound to a flute sound for example without having to re-record everything because the information is stored there already as a MIDI file.

Does Audacity Have the Ability To Work With MIDI In This Way?

Unfortunately not. This is because Audacity is not a full Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) like Ableton or Logic (or the many others). If you want a full explanation of why, check out this article I wrote on the topic recently.

It is better to think of Audacity as a simple audio editor. This means it is still a very good option for basic audio work. But it really falls short when it comes to music production in many ways.

Even if you manage to get MIDI into Audacity, using the methods I will explain later in this article, you won’t be able to do much with it.

You can’t change the MIDI values associated with notes such as the velocity or length. All you can do with the MIDI file in Audacity is cutting and pasting it into different positions or moving it around on the timeline.

Can I Plug A MIDI Keyboard Directly Into Audacity?

No, Audacity is simply a basic audio editing software, it is currently not possible to plug a MIDI keyboard in and record MIDI notes into Audacity directly.

If you want that functionality you are much better off paying for one of the more advanced Digital Audio Workstations. There are so many options available now you don’t have to spend much money. There are even other free workstations that can do this which I will get onto shortly.

How To Use A MIDI Keyboard in Audacity – Some Workaround Solutions

I don’t just want to be the bearer of bad news here and tell you it simply can’t be done, I want to try and provide some solutions too!

Despite not being able to record MIDI notes into Audacity directly there are a couple of tricks you can use to record using a MIDI keyboard into Audacity.

1) Import MIDI from other free software

As mentioned already, Audacity isn’t a total write-off when it comes to MIDI. You can import MIDI files from elsewhere to use in compositions.

There are several basic Free Digital Audio Workstations capable of understanding and working with MIDI. Probably the best example is SoundBridge.

Step 1 – Download a free DAW capable of MIDI editing

Soundbridge is still free but slightly more advanced than Audacity. Download this for free and open it up.

Step 2 – Download a free VST instrument plugin

You will need a VST instrument to be able to hear any MIDI compositions you make within Soundbridge. Unfortunately Soundbridge doesn’t come with any instruments built in but there are hundreds of great VST instruments available for free online these days.

In this example I downloaded Sforzando, a very simple keyboard VST instrument which can be downloaded from here https://www.plogue.com/products/sforzando.html.

But if you want other instruments a simple google search will lead you to many great ones.

Step 3 – Setup your MIDI Keyboard

Plugin your MIDI keyboard to your computer via USB. Then go to Preferences in SoundBridge and select MIDI on the left as shown in the image below. From here you should be able to select your MIDI keyboard as the MIDI input device. Click the switch to turn it on.

Step 4 – Add a new MIDI track

Add a new MIDI track and select Sforzando (or whichever instrument you downloaded) from the instrument box and record your MIDI file.

Step 5 – Edit the MIDI

You can then edit the MIDI file within the piano roll by double clicking on the track you’ve just recorded. You can change the note lengths, velocity and all other aspects of the MIDI in here.

Step 6 – Export your MIDI file

Usb Midi Roll Up Piano Software Mac

Once you are happy you can go to File > Export MIDI Tracks and export to a location of your choice.

Step 7 – Open your VST Instrument On Its Own

To get this to play in Audacity. Make sure you have your MIDI instrument (Sforzando or similar) open before you open Audacity. Simply open it like you would open any other piece of software on your computer.

Step 8 – Open your MIDI file in Audacity

You can then drag and drop in your newly saved MIDI track and it will appear in Audacity as shown below.

Step 9 – Playback your MIDI in Audacity

You can get this to playback in Audacity by going to Preferences > MIDI Devices and selecting the VST instrument as the playback device.

That was extremely complicated but I wanted to show it can be done. The reality is even then you will end up with potential issues in Audacity with latency and creshing.

So unless you specifically want or need to use Audacity then you may simply ask yourself if you’d be better using other free DAW software such as Soundbridge instead. It is much easier to work within one piece of software for the whole project.

2) Via an App on Your Phone Or Tablet

Audacity may not be capable of understanding MIDI directly from your MIDI keyboard, however, most phones or tablets are with the use of simple free apps.

This means if we can find a way to connect our keyboard to out phone or tablet, we can use this as a way to translate MIDI into an audio file and record that into Audacity.

For this method you are going to need a couple of pieces of equipment.

  1. A USB to USB C (or other type depending on the phone or tablet you have) OTG Converter
  2. 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable (if you have a microphone input on your computer) or
  3. An audio interface

Step 1 – Connect the MIDI keyboard to your device

Using the OTG converter cable connect the USB from your MIDI keyboard to your device.

Step 2 – Download a MIDI app

Use an app such as ‘perfect piano’ which will convert the MIDI notes you press on your keyboard into an audio signal. Perfect piano has many different instrument sounds included for free, from a simple grand piano to an organ and much more.

Step 3 – Connect the phone or tablet headphone output to your computer

You then need to get that audio signal from your phone into your computer so you can record it in Audacity.

If your computer has a 3.5mm microphone input (such as the one shown below). You can simply use a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable to connect.

If you do not have this you will need to use an external soundcard of some sort. An external soundcard is also known as an audio interface. There are many very cheap options available now for under $50 in many cases and are an essential item in any music studio, so well worth the investment.

As you can see the inputs on an external soundcard/ audio interface are 1/4 inch inputs so you will need to buy a 3.5mm to 1/4inch cable to input from your phone to the interface. The interface itself connects to your laptop of a computer via USB.

Step 4 – Open up Audacity and select your device

When you open Audacity you should see a bar at the top where you can select your recording device. Here either select your microphone input or your audio interface.

Step 5 – Hit record

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Once you have the correct input device selected you can hit the record button and anything you play on the keyboard through the phone app will be recorded into Audacity.

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Concluding Remarks

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So it is possible to work with MIDI in Audacity, importing tracks and even playing them back. But it is a very long and complicated way of doing things and with so much other software available for very cheap (or even free) such as Soundbridge. Perhaps you are best looking elsewhere if MIDI is something you want to use regularly.

Midi Piano Roll Software

Audacity is still a great piece of free software for basic audio production and if you simply need to add some MIDI to an existing project then I hope you can use these tricks to do so.